From the start, I’ve always said Oui In France is not my personal diary and I’ve stuck to that for the most part. The goal of this site is to help others and share inspirational and informational content about life abroad, French culture, language learning, etc. But on a personal level, sometimes I do write entries in a hard copy diary because it helps me process things, de-stress, and reflect. So I’m sharing something with you today that I wrote a while ago that falls into the “life” category. I hope that’s OK! Maybe you can relate.
A long time ago, Oprah Winfrey said something about forgiveness on her afternoon talk show that has stuck with me. Referencing a former guest, Oprah explained this a-ha moment, “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different.”
But how do you do that?
The longer we live, the more opportunity there is for joy. And hurt. And wishing things unfolded differently. Every day is an opportunity to do better and be better for those we love, and maybe most importantly, for ourselves.
As humans, we hurt each other. Sometimes it’s barely a scratch and sometimes the hurt cuts deep.
We say sorry. We accept others’ sorrys. Sometimes the sorry never comes.
We have to move on.
How do we move past something that still bothers us so deeply? A hurt that we still think about. Things we wish would have gone differently.
I’ve forgiven people in my past, but have I given up hope that things could have turned out differently? No. What if he said that or she did that or I reacted like this instead. What if…. the what ifs bury us. “Things could have been different,” I still tell myself.
Depending on what the situation is, “forgive and forget” applies, but sometimes it’s more like “forgive and remember.”
How do we forgive people who don’t even know they need to be forgiven? How do we forgive ourselves?
How do we get to the other side? To acceptance?
Things that have been long swept under the rug or that cease to exist in others’ minds. In our own head, these things are still in the forefront. We appear to have forgiven and moved on.
We put things out of sight hoping they’ll stay out of mind but that’s never worked for me. Putting something out of sight just lets it fester, build, and explode at the most inopportune time. Or causes a resentment that’s just barely perceptible in our attitude and tone. That is, if we still talk at all…
I’m the type of person who needs to talk about things for there to be any hope of a resolution. Moving on like nothing happened is the worst.
Forgive and remember….
Trying to forgive and forget.
Maybe the answer is to accept something in the middle.
How do we free ourselves from the pain of what we feel were injustices? Of someone else’s carelessness. Of someone else’s failure to be there.
And the hurt that comes with them not even knowing it’s an issue for us, but not wanting to cause WWW3 and speak up now after so much time has passed. Time that surely we could have used to forgive if we only knew how.
What if forgiveness feels like letting them get off easy?
They don’t deserve our gift of forgiveness because they don’t even know how badly they messed up. How badly you messed up. You can’t change people. But we can work on ourselves.
Forgiveness is for us, not them, people say.
It’s about letting go and mentally flipping that switch so we’re no longer burdened. But it’s easier said than done.
It still hurts when we think about it. And we do often. We still hold on to hope that things could have been different.
So how do we move forward?
We enjoy ourselves.
We laugh and go out and try to be good to each other. It’s always harder to be good to ourselves. But we do it, because with time comes healing.
We do better next time. And the time after that.
We free ourselves from the weight that’s been holding us back and do better for ourselves because we deserve it. We find joy in the everyday. The little things. The small victories.
It’s a process within that’s more about us than them. We build ourselves up so we’re strong enough to forgive. One day we’ll be there and we’ll fly high above.
Forgive. Remember. Let go.